What We Can Learn from Star Trek Movies

Male, aging, crooked teeth, messy hair, lab coat, spectacles/goggles, dramatic posing-one popular stereotype of a mad scientistPhoto: J.J.

Space, the final frontier. Those were the words of one ship’s captain each time a Star Trek episode ended. How much truth those four words reverberated back then is nothing compared to the logarithmic level of truth they have today.

It shouldn’t be “These are the voyages of our environment descending into the abyss of capitulation”. Nor should it be “Its present and future mission: to bypass growing technologies and refuse to explore strange, but perhaps, potentially effective new ideas”, nor “to boldly renege on research and development into emerging technologies that can take us where no man has gone before”.

Seeing a “Star Trek” voyage meant glimpses of clean technologies and subsisting in greener, more innovative communities.

An Early Fight

Even the trekkiest movies were met with early resistance yet continued on to become winning movies. Since we cannot go back in time to arrest our miscalculations (those regarding the environment) similar to what the heroes of those trekkie movies did to terminate the defiant and fierce Borg, we may need to shake it up a bit.

Terrestrial Planet Finder-A planned Infrared interferometer for finding earth-like extrasolar planets (as of 2010, it has not received the funding is going towards the kepler mission)Photo: NASA

Maybe a progression of unusual, contoured technological machines that network between different areas of the country or world to capture ideas, share input and streamline complex problems. Why not a profound mix of people from different backgrounds whose intelligence and creativity is not measured by a number or letter? Trekkie movies had aliens with bizarre features, non-male personnel manning the vessel and clean environments (smoking was banned). Yet, these movies were vastly popular.

Building Better Worlds

Sure, trekkie movies were successful. They displayed a desire to create something better, interesting, yet unimagined. Optimism surrounding clean water and air, which we humans need, must exist if there is going to be a tomorrow. We have an environment to be proud of, but should strive to continuously make it excellent, which is as close to perfection as we’ll get.

Cause and Effect

There is an episode of a Star Trek movie that somewhat reflects the current state of our environment. Crew members in the episode are stuck in circularity and reiterate the identical sequence of occurrences time and time again. Coming to the end of each hole, the ship is demolished in a severe impact with another ship that propels the demolished ship back to the beginning of the hole. Yet each time the ship starts over, there are small changes. The crew starts to retain some small memory of their trip through the hole each time, which makes them more and more aware when they start their trip through the hole again that a dreadful event is happening. But they cannot quite pinpoint what it is.

Simulatedview of a black hole in front of the Large Magellanic CloudPhoto: Alain R

Are we there yet with this scenario or are we just continuously crawling through a black hole, not even giving ourselves the chance to start anew? Maybe we are continuously returning to the black hole, starting over, being wasteful, expediently expiring our natural resources and not capturing lost innovation each time. So we have made mistakes as a society. Now, we can recognize them. And maybe our progress to a new society will be the greater exploration of where no man has gone before. But it will only be reality. No imagination allowed.

A visualization of a warp field. The ship rests in a bubble of normal space.Photo: Trekky0623